How Soccer Organizations are Supporting Empowerment for Burmese Girls

In a society with identified gender roles, it’s not common to see the involvement of Burmese girls in sports; they are generally expected to fulfill household chores and stay home to take care after their families. An organisation that was founded in the past ten years and is pursuing small goals, is now changing attitudes of the gender roles of Burmese refugees living in Thailand. It is part of the Burmese custom of having girls rest at home. Typically outside activities are conducted by males, as explained by James an instructor of soccer of Chin background employed by PlayOnside an non-governmental group which is situated near the Thai border.

It’s estimated that in Myanmar’s lengthy civil war about 40,000 refugees have sought refuge in nine camps on the Thai-Myanmar border. Similarly , Burmese refugees reside in Mae Sot, a town located on the border. This is why PlayOnside was established to implement positive grassroots projects for the most vulnerable as well as marginalized refugees and migrants especially females and children, on the Thai-Myanmar border.

In 2004, Javier Almagro, the current director, embarked on an excursion towards the border region in Spain and witnessed the necessity to ensure that Burmese migrant children to have the same chances in sports. Almagro as well as Daen, organized The Amore Cup tournament in an effort to unite the Thai and Burmese migrants. There was a consensus that Thai children and women had higher participation over Burmese kids who lacked proper soccer equipment and appropriate places to play. In the wake of observing this disparity Almagro said: ……

Almagro mentions that, following a few months of training and playing, it became clear to him and his team that the concept required to be more well-established. The concept of PlayOnside was conceived with the assurance that soccer could be an efficacious means of providing the necessary education and motivation to people who are of Burmese as well as Karen ethnicity who were exiled in Thailand. Furthermore, the sport has a tremendous potential for the development of a community by offering fun educational activities for children especially females within the border of Thailand as well as Myanmar.

Thanks to the generosity of donors and the broader Burmese community of migrants it experienced rapid growth, thereby affording the chance to Burmese girls living in Mae Sot to participate in tournaments that took place in Bangkok and other cities. Almagro states that the group’s distinct mission in the border region has allowed it to expand naturally and more attention was granted to the organization’s efforts in providing an environment that is safe and fun for Burmese travelers. The initial participation was extremely limited for women. However, over the past 10 years, increasing awareness campaigns have allowed the organization to build close relationships with local Burmese societies in order to boost the acceptance of Burmese migrants.

A report from the Women’s Sports Foundation states that sport has been an important social-cultural experience for young and old for decades. They have benefited from several benefits, such as improved confidence in one’s self, academic achievement, good body image and higher levels of self-confidence. This study continues to show that women who aren’t involved in sports from a young start are less successful in the workforce. I am particularly pleased with the success we have had in encouraging inclusion as well as empowerment. We have also helped facilitate greater participation of Burmese girl migrants to these events.

The moral

The distinctive mission of the association at the border of Thailand/Myanmar allowed it to reach many Burmese immigrants to offer them the opportunity to learn and have fun. They have also been able to cultivate close ties with Burmese groups by bringing awareness. It has also helped to increase the number of females participating. It is admirable that the foundation has worked difficult to make sure that they can offer Burmese kids a special opportunity. It will be a great help for many years.

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